Any other names for this test?
Prolactin blood test, PRL test.
What is prolactin?
Prolactin is a hormone generated by the pituitary gland,
a tiny gland located at the base of the brain.
What is the purpose of prolactin?
The primary purpose of prolactin is to help women produce milk (lactation) after childbirth. Throughout pregnancy and after delivery, prolactin causes the breasts to expand and produce milk. Pregnant women and new mothers often have high levels of prolactin. Non-pregnant women and males often have low levels.
What is a prolactin test?
A prolactin test
defines the amount of prolactin present in your blood. In case your prolactin levels are higher than Normal levels. It means you have a type of tumor of the pituitary gland called a prolactinoma. This tumor causes the gland to release an excessive amount of prolactin.
What is the purpose of a prolactin test?
This test helps in determining prolactinomas in a blood sample. Even though prolactinomas are harmless (noncancerous). However, if left untreated, these tumors might harm the tissues in the surrounding.
An increase in prolactin can cause breast milk production in both men and women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. In the case of women, an excess amount of prolactin causes menstrual issues and infertility (inability to become pregnant).
It can cause erectile dysfunction and decreased intercourse dysfunction in men (ED). It is often known as impotence, the inability to obtain or maintain an erection.
What does a prolactin test measure?
A prolactin test
is done to
- Find the cause of irregular menstrual cycles and infertility in women.
- Analyze the pituitary gland's activity (along with other hormones)
- Identify prolactinomas (tumors of the pituitary gland that produces prolactin)
- Track prolactinoma treatment and look for recurrences
- Find the source of galactorrhea.
- Help identify the reason for erectile dysfunction in men.
- Find what causes headaches and vision problems.
Why would a doctor recommend this test?
The doctor might order a prolactin test
if you experience symptoms of increased prolactin levels. He may also ask for this test if you know how your pituitary glands are functioning.
Why do I need this test?
You might need a prolactin test
if you have symptoms that relates to prolactinoma.
- Breast milk production if you are not pregnant.
- Vision issues
- The leaking of breast
These symptoms are different in men and women. In the case of women, these symptoms also vary if you have gone through menopause. It is a condition in the life of a woman where her menstrual period has stopped thus, she cannot become pregnant anymore. This condition often arises when a woman is around fifty years old.
Excess prolactin symptoms in women who did not go through menopause:
- Periodic irregularities
- Periods that have entirely stopped before the age of 40. It is also known as premature menopause.
- Breast sensitivity
Menopause might not show any signs until the condition gets worse in women.
Excess prolactin symptom in men:
- Nipple discharge
- Enlargement of the breasts
- Low-quality drive
- Erection problems
- Reduction in body hair
How do I prepare for this test?
There is no need for any specific preparation for Prolactin tests
. Prolactin levels differ during the day and night. They are at their peak when you are sleeping, soon after you wake up, right after doing intense exercise, and when you are under emotional stress.
Your healthcare provider may request that you perform the test at a specific time of day (usually after a few hours).
To be safe, inform your healthcare provider about any medicine you are taking. Some medications can increase the level of prolactin.
Some of these medications are as under,
- Birth control pills
- Antidepressant medication
- High blood pressure medicine
What happens during a prolactin test?
Your healthcare providers will take a blood sample from the vein of your hand. They will insert a tiny needle, and a small amount of blood will be taken and placed in a test tube.
How long does this test take?
are often conducted in under five minutes.
Is there any risk attached to the test?
There is no harmful risk to this test. Aside from slight pain and bruising around the area where the needle went in.
What happens after a prolactin test is done?
Your healthcare provider will wrap a bandage around the area where the needle goes to prevent bleeding.
What does the result mean?
The doctor will discuss your results with you. In case the test results are higher than the usual limit. You have high prolactin levels in your blood.
In case the results are below than Normal limit. You have low prolactin levels. It could mean your pituitary gland is not working properly.
Take an online talk
with a healthcare professional for more details.
The Normal ranges for a prolactin test are:
- Pregnant women:10 to 209 ng/mL
- Nonpregnant women: 2–29 ng/mL
- Males: 2–18 ng/mL (nanometers per milliliter)
Ranges may vary from laboratory to laboratory.
What does a high level of prolactin levels mean?
In case your result is more than the normal range. It means you have high prolactin levels in your blood. It does not necessarily indicate a problem. Sometimes you have eaten a lot or you were under a lot of stress when you get your blood test.
If your levels are high – up to 1,000 times the maximum limit of what is considered normal – you may develop prolactinoma. This tumor is not cancerous and can be treated with medications. Your doctor might suggest an MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) in this situation.
What does a low level of prolactin levels mean?
Low levels are a sign of the pituitary gland not functioning fully. Your pituitary gland may not be working at its maximum capacity if your prolactin levels are below the usual range. It is referred to as hypopituitarism. Low prolactin levels do not often require medical attention.
A few medicines that might be the reason for low-level prolactin include:
- Ergot alkaloid derivatives
- Dopamine (Intropin)
Anything else I should know about this test?
Anxiety from disease, trauma, job, and personal concerns, as well as the fear of having a blood test, can result in mild rises in prolactin levels.
Book your prolactin
lab test now.